Computer Science hosts J.P. Morgan

Following on from a successful visit last year, J.P. Morgan returned to the School of Computer Science last week, to promote tech careers, internships and other student opportunities.

Staff from the company and CS students are pictured viewing project challenges and their solutions highlighted in their technology showcase whilst discussing future career openings and enjoying the complimentary pizza.

J.P. Morgan is a popular destination for our graduates demonstrated by four Alumni (Maria McParland, Nada Kartouch, Conner Somerville and Peter Cockroft) who were part of the team representing the company at the successful event.

Computer Science Ball 2017

Postgraduate students, led by Paul Dobra, organised the first ever CS Ball in August. The celebration coincided with finishing summer dissertations and the annual poster and demo session. The school sponsored Smurfalicious Blue Ball proved very popular and sold out of tickets earlier in August. The theme was blue and the location was The old Manor Hotel, in Lundin Links. The evening comprised of champagne, dinner and a Ceilidh till midnight. Students are pictured enjoying the 3 course dinner and fully embracing the spirit of a Cèilidh. We look forward to seeing them at December Graduation.

Images courtesy of Paul Dobra, Ula Rustamova, Nick Tikhonov, and Xu Zhu.
– Main Organisers: Paul Dobra & Shyam Reyal
– Promotion (online): Yin Noe, Nouchali Reyal
– Promotion (offline): Gillian Baird, Fiona George, Midhat Un Nisa
– Material Design: Yin Noe
– Photography: Ula Rustamova and Nick Tikhonov
– Decorations: Fiona George, Midhat Un Nisa, Anke Shi, Masha Nedjalkova, Sihan Li
– Electronics / Multimedia / Drone: Xu Zhu
– Music for Disco: Blair Fyfe

DLS: What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Computer History

Event details

  • When: 10th October 2017 09:30 - 16:00
  • Where: Byre Theatre
  • Series: Distinguished Lectures Series
  • Format: Distinguished lecture

What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Computer History

Prof Ursula Martin

Update: Lectures will be live streamed at this link.

Distinguished Lecture Series, Semester 1, 2017-18


Professor Ursula Martin CBE FREng FRSE joined the University of Oxford as Professor of Computer Science in 2014, and is a member of the Mathematical Institute.  She holds an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship, and a Senior Research Fellowship at Wadham College. Her research, initially in algebra, logic and the use of computers to create mathematical proofs, now focuses on wider social and cultural approaches to understanding the success and impact of current and historical computer science research.

Prof Ursula Martin

Prof Ursula Martin

Before joining Oxford she worked at  Queen Mary University of London, where she was Vice-Principal for Science and Engineering (2005-2009), and Director of the impactQM project (2009-2012), an innovative knowledge transfer initiative. She serves on numerous international committees, including the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee and the UK Defence Science Advisory Council.  She worked  at the University of St Andrews from 1992 – 2002, as only its second female professor, and its first in over 50 years. She holds an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge, and a PhD in Mathematics from Warwick.


9.30 Introduction

9.35 Lecture 1:  The early history of computing: Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the history of programming

10.35 Break with Refreshments Provided

11.15 Lecture 2: Case study, Alan Turing,  Grace Hopper, and the history of getting things right

12.15 Lunch (not provided)

2.30 Welcome by the Principal, Prof Sally Mapstone

2.35 Lecture 3: What do historians of computing do, and why is it  important for computer scientists today

3.30 Close

Lecture 1. The early history of computing: Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the history of programming

IN 1843 Ada Lovelace published a remarkable paper in which she explained  Charles Babbage’s designs for his Analytical Engine. Had it been built, it would have had in principle the same capabilities  as a modern general purpose computer. Lovelace’s paper is famous for its insights into more general questions, as well as for its detailed account of how the machine performed its calculations – illustrated with a large table which is often called, incorrectly, the “first programme”.   I’ll talk about the wider context; why people were interested in computing engines; and some of the other work that was going on at the time, for example Babbage’s remarkable hardware description language. I’ll  look at different explanations for why Babbage’s ideas did not take off, and give a quick overview of what did happen over the next 100 years, before  the invention of the first digital computers.

Lecture 2. Case study, Alan Turing,  Grace Hopper, and the history of getting things right

Getting software right was a theme of programming for the days of Babbage onwards. I’ll look at the work of pioneers Alan Turing and Grace Hopper, and talk about the long interaction of computer science with logic, which has led to better programming languages, new ways to prove programmes correct, and sophisticated mathematical theories of importance in their own right.  I’ll look at the history of the age-old debate about whether computer science needs mathematics to explain its main ideas, or whether practical skills, building things and making things simple for the user are more important.

Lecture 3: What do historians of computing do, and why is it  important for computer scientists today

When people think about computer science, they think about ideas and technologies that are transforming the future – smaller faster smarter connected devices, powered by, AI, and big data – and looking at the past can be seen as a bit of a waste of time. In this lecture I’ll look at what historians do and why it is important; how we get history wrong; and in particular often miss the contribution of of women.  I’ll illustrate my talk with  my own work on Ada Lovelace’s papers, to show how  detailed historical work is needed to debunk popular myths – it is often claimed that Lovelace’s talent was  “poetical science” rather than maths, but I’ve shown that she was a gifted perceptive and knowledgeable mathematician. I’ll explain how the historian’s techniques of getting it right can help us get to grip with  topical problems like “Fake news”, and give us new ways of thinking about the future.

MSc Poster Demo Session 2017

After a year of hard work, and an intensive summer dissertation, our MSc students submitted their dissertations last week and presented their project posters and artefacts.

The eventful poster demonstration session provides a great opportunity for students to meet with second markers, reflect upon their MSc experience and appreciate the diverse projects completed by their peers. This year, students organised a School sponsored CS Ball, to celebrate their achievement.

We wish them all, every success with future plans, and look forward to seeing them again at December Graduation.

Images courtesy of Saleem Bhatti and Xu Zhu.

Postgraduate Dinner at Fairmont Hotel

Postgraduate student, Paul Dobra organised an end of semester celebratory dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in April. The social event marked the end of teaching and provided a chance to relax before the commencement of dissertation. Paul supplied comments and shared some photos from the occasion.

“There are rather few occasions not to be happy when you are surrounded by friends and family. Even better so when your friends are like your family, and in true computer science spirit the end of the second semester finished in a grand style: enjoying the scenic view of the North Sea from the balcony of the Fairmont Hotel and Restaurant, approximately 60 postgraduates celebrated their friendship and the successful completion of deadlines. Consisting of a lavish three-course meal and blessed with amazing weather, the event was a reminder of the true, everlasting bonds that can be forged outside university.”

Images and text courtesy of Paul Dobra

Computer Science: June Graduation 2017

Congratulations to our Senior Honours Class of 2017, MSci Honours students and our PhD students Dr Anne-Marie Mann, Dr Ildiko Pete, Dr Yuchen Zhao and Dr Michael Mauderer, who graduated on Wednesday. Students were invited to a reception in the School prior to the ceremony, to celebrate their achievement with staff, friends and family. We echo the sentiments expressed by our Head of School, Professor Steve Linton, during his Graduation address.

“For what you have achieved here, we are so proud of you. For what you will achieve, we wait eagerly and will always be proud. And wherever you are, we hope you will always regard St Andrews as a place you can call home.”

Our graduates will indeed move on to a wide variety of interesting and challenging employment and further study opportunities, and we wish them all well with their future careers.

Images courtesy of Annemarie Paton and Ryo Yanagida.